Posted by: technofutures | January 23, 2009

Cambridge Lent Week 1

My last Lent term in Cambridge! I can still remember the first as if it was yesterday… Lots of work planned, especially on my project, but should be quite fun… sort of…

Lots of text here at the top… pictures below 🙂

Course Modules

I’m doing fun modules this term! Well, I think they’re fun anyway… These are the ones I’m ‘officially’ doing:

And for more fun, I thought I’m hoping to continue going to these as well… unless I drown under a flood of work…

By now, I’ve had at least two lectures of all of these, and am enjoying most of them, without falling asleep too much. I also seem to have more lectures in common with my friends this term, so I’m happy too 🙂

Machine learning is probably (no pun intended…) the hardest and seems to be a tornado of equations and probability, but I suppose it is (very …) relevant to my project…

In Solid State Devices we’re looking at more metal-insulator-semiconductor engineering (lectured by my Italian director of studies- his lectures are very amusing…).

Non-Linear and Predictive Control consists of a plethora of seemingly-complicated theorems, which when unravelled turn out to be rather trivial… so far…

VLSI Design is given by a lecturer which I really like… he’s not the type of lecturer who jumps up and down enthusiastically at the front of the lecture room, but he’s always methodical and has some of the best handouts in the department… So far we’ve looked at MOSFET theory (again…) and started looking at basic design techniques for large scale semiconductor-projects, e.g. for computer processors.

Advanced Telecommunications is very narrative (but I expected that), and we’ve been looking at layer 2 components of the OSI model. The coursework this year is about VoIP so I’m spending some time looking up advantages/disadvantages… If anyone has any thoughts/experiences, do tell me…


TMR_Page_4 For those that are interested in where I’m up to in my project (Object Recognition from Video), you can download a copy of my short Technical Milestone Report which describes what I did last term and where I’m going now…

Currently, I’m looking at splitting video sequences into lots of image patches, and trying to learn which patches best help us to discriminate between different objects, initially using machine-learning algorithms such as k-means clustering, and trying out different techniques based on the results I obtained last term. I was confused for quite a while the other days when my object recognition system kept insisting that the object in the video containing a walnut was the same as in a video containing a big cuddly teddy bear… until I found a bug in my code : )

Click here for a copy of my Technical Milestone Report!

WPF Webcast

I watched a great webcast the other day, organised by Microsoft UK for the Student Partners. It was presented by Kris Athi (with whom I was in Seattle in September) who gave us a deep-dive into the wonders of WPF. I have to say it inspired me to have a go… but after hours of pulling my hair with datagrids and data-binding in Expression Blend and an infuriating bug in Blend, I admitted defeat… for now… I’ll be back with a vengeance at some point : )

Geocaching Night Cache

One of my friends, Hugo, and I set off last week to attempt another GeoCache (see my earlier post on the topic), this time called ‘Cambridge Ghosts’… This was a night cache so we set off around midnight into the cold streets of Cambridge following Hugo’s ever-reliable’ GPS (ahem…). By 1:45am we had collected all the clues and had made our way to the supposed hiding place of the cache… only to spend 45 minutes rummaging around in a pitch-black undergrowth with my camera and Hugo’s phone as our only source of illumination…

Unfortunately, we didn’t find it! So came back the next day in daylight … only to be forced to abandon that attempt too due to inconsiderate fishermen who were fishing along the Cam, just where the cache was hidden… but that was not the end… Determined to find it, we came back after midnight and spent 2 hours looking again… until Hugo finally found it! A victorious moment indeed… some photos below! I came back with a lovely little rubber duck taken from the cache as a souvenir…


P1170176P1170163 (a ghost…)

We got home at 2:45am… These geocaches are really great fun!

BETT 2009

Of course, after getting come at a ridiculous time after the geocaching night, I then had to prepare my bag for the fun of the next day… Went to bed at 4 am got up at 6am to head off to BETT 2009 (the world’s largest educational technology event).

Of course, because of my tendency to be over-punctual, I arrived in London far too early and so ventured off to say hello to Tower Bridge at 7am… It was also an interesting day, given that half the tubes were not running…grrr!

P1170189 P1170197 P1170199 P1170200 P1170201

The trade show was really nice, and got to see lots and lots of new educational technologies, smart boards, multi-touch surfaces, lots of software, hardware kits, Virtual Learning environments, etc… Microsoft also had a very nice stall, where among other things they were showing off their multi-touch Surface Table. It was also lovely to meet up with a teacher and friend from my old school!

After the show, a quick shopping was in order, with Harrods, Hamleys and Oxford Street being completed in a short 3 hours… Suffice it to say my feet hurt for two days after…!

Cambridge University 800th Anniversary.

I manage to get back from London just in time for the opening ceremony of the university’s 800th anniversary celebrations, which was held in central Cambridge, where thousands of people gathered to hear all the bells in Cambridge ringing and to watch the light show… It was nice, but I thought it lacked a nice dramatic soundtrack…

It was so packed that we were very far away so my video wasn’t great, but here is someone else’s which is quite nice : )


It was certainly a busy week! Now … lots of project work planned for the week-end!



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